CHAPTER V.—LAST DAYS.

Shortly after the joyful meeting recorded in our last chapter, Peter and James went to the Isle of Man, while Nessy remained with the Grahams. She had, as will be seen, an invitation from Lady Tempest, which she declined.

"Letter to Lady Tempest, on being invited to stay at her house in Herefordshire" :—

Accept, my dear madam, the tribute that’s due
To kind hospitality, friendship, and you;
Accept my best thanks for your kind invitation,
Which conveys to my bosom so sweet a sensation.

Tho’ flatter’d am I by such friendship’s excess——
What words can my gratitude ever express?

But—
Forgive, if at present, I cannot comply—
My Mamma is impatient, and home I must hie:
I wait but to see a good aunt, whom I love,
That duty perform’d, I immediately move.

To part with my friends I shall feel much regret,
I almost cou’d wish we never had met.

How then cou’d I bear—had I gone to Hope-End,
Where, with such a party, such hours I should spend—
To know you—to love you—yet quit you in haste,
Too painful the trial such pleasure to taste;
Too great my vexation in leaving you so,
Too heavy my loss, when I homeward shou’d. go.
Mrs. Graham, with goodness that’s truly her own,
Since now it is not in my pow’r to go down,
To oblige nie still more has most kindly requested
My consent to a plan she herself has suggested.
To you she’ll impart it, and should it succeed,
My wishes will then be complied with indeed.
I then shall acknowledge your goodness excessive,
Yet to tell you my feelings what words are expressive?
Believe me, dear madam, I ne’er can forget
Your attention and friendship which early I’ve met;
In person I’ll thank you, and tell you that never
Shall time from my bosom true gratitude sever.
To your fair friend, Miss Harriett, I beg. my best love,
Which I hope she’ll return, if deserving I prove;
Shou’d she e’er know me better I hope she will like me,
At present her wit is sufficient to strike me.
My respects to Sir Harry, and compliments due,
With all my affectionate wishes, te you.
My brother is well, and sincerely he joins
His grateful expressions with mine in these lines.
Believe me, I ever shall think you too good,
And am ever your much oblig’d

NESSY HEYWOOD.

 

Her time, till the end of the year, was spent, partly with the Grahams, and partly with her uncle and aunt Holwell, at Tunbridge Wells. Her next effusion was : —

"To MR. GRAHAM—ON HIS BIRTHDAY."
Oh, be this day for ever blest to thee,
From care exempt, from pain and sorrow free;
May each succeeding year with joy abound,
And ev’ry birthday be with pleasure crown’d.
Each bliss he thine, that bounteous heav’n can give,
While life remains and thou shalt wish to live
Be all thy days with sweet contentment blest
Till full of years thou gently sink’st to rest.
But may I ne’er that fatal moment see,
Nor weep the friendship I should lose in thee.

The 30th of December found her at Liverpool, where she composed some lines : —

"ON A POCKET MIRROR."

Thou pleasing little gift to lite
Of gentle Anna’s love.
Oft., for her sake, I’ll gaze on thee.
While distant far I rove.

Smooth like thy surface be her life,
Her days with pleasure glide.
Exempt from sorrow, care, and strife—
Nor be one wish deny’d.

May each succeeding year be blest,
May joy her steps attend,
Misfortune ne’er invade her breast,
But peace which knows no end.

 

It is probable that she crossed to Douglas on the next day. The New Year opened with an "Impromptu, on being teased by my lively sister Bell to make some verses on her birthday" :—

Propitious be this day to thee, my Bell,
May’st thou live long, live happy, and live well.
May sorrow ne’er assail thy tranquil breast-,
But be thy life with balmy comfort blest.
May sweet vivacity be ever thine,
And pleasure’s beams thro’ all thy moments shine.
But may good sense still on thy steps attend,
And guide thine actions like a faithful friend.

Nessy’s brief period of happiness was to be interrupted by the death, in the following month (February)- of Maria Graham : —

"On the death of my lovely and most regretted friend, Maria Graham, who fell a sacrifice to a rapid consumption at the early age of fifteen."

Oh, gloomy sorrow, foe to peace and rest.
Invader cruel of my wetched breast,
When wilt thou cease thy pointed darts to throw
When cease to load me with excessive woe

Thou ever lov’d and ever deeply mourn'd.
Whose heavenly form ten thousand charms adored.
In whose sweet face, by beauty’s hand pourtray’d,
Unnumbered smiles, and willing graces plav’d.
Dearest. Maria—sister of my heart,
So known — so loved — but oh, how soon to part
Snatchd from our hopes in all thy infant bloom,
An early victim to the silent tomb.
How shall I hear with anguish to deplore.
And weep that friendship which is mine no more
How bear to lose that love which made me blest.
And charmd with smiles a heart by woe opprest
In all mycares how sweetly dids’t thou join,
In all my pleasures rnix’d and made them thine
Encourag’d me to hope that bliss was near,
And gently banish’d ev’ry rising tear;
Shar’d all my happiness when grief was o’er,
And said. alas, that I shou'd sigh no more
To bless my hours did every thought employ.
Alike partaker of my grief and joy.
No more shall I those eyes expressive see
Which oft so tenderly wou’d gaze on me,
No more those eyes shall for my sorrow weep.
For ever clos’d, alas, in endless sleep.
No more that voice delighted shall I hear,
With plaintive softness trembling on my ear,
Those accents mild and innocently sweet
Which faithful memory will oft repeat.
Clos’d are those lips, on which persuasion hung,
Mute is that voice and silent is that tongue.
Insatiate spoiler of domestic joys—
Relentless Death, why seek so fair a prize ?
Why plunge a father’s heart in endless grief ?
Why mourns a mother, hopeless of relief ?
Why weeps a sister at thy stern decree?
Why snatch her thus from friendship and from me?
Yet oh, pure spirit, dear lamented shade,
Why shou’d we grieve that thou art happy made ?
Assur’d of that, let plaintive murmurs cease,
Nor let us envy thy eternal peace;
Hush our complaints, imo longer thus repine,
Nor mourn our loss, w’hile perfect bliss is thine.
Then come thou, Resignation, meek-ey’d guest,
Shed thy s-oft influence o’er each sad breast:
Teach us submission to th’ Almighty will,
With patient fortitude our bosoms fill,
Teach us to hope that we shall meet again,
Exempt from sorrow, misery, and pain
The’ her dear form is mingled with the dust,
Teach us to think that Heav’n’s decrees are just;
Yet oh, forgive, if still our tears will flow,
If sighs will heave, and speak our weighty woe,
If mem’ry on her virtues loves to dwell,
If friendship grieves that soon, alas, she fell.
How thou wert lov’d, Maria, nought can say,
How art thou mourn’d thus early snatched away.
To please, delight and charm each heart was tkine,
To weep thy loss, must now, alas, be mine.
Remember’d still, till memory is no more,
And deeply mourn’d, till life itself is o’er.

These are followed by "Lines intended to be work’d with my hair in a pocket-book for my amiable lost friend, Maria Graham, when I received the account of her untimely death" :—

Accept this trifle, gentle fair,
The gift of love and truth,
And let me still thy friendship share
When age succeeds to youth.

Let me, when absent- from thy sight
Still dwell in that dear mind,
Still to that bosom give delight.
And thou he ever kind.

May Health and Peace and Joy be thine,
May Pleasure dwell with thee,
May all thy days unclouded shine,
Yet oh, remember me!

Another friend passed away at the end of March:

"On the sudden and melancholy death of my very charming friend, Michael Southcote, Esq., who was deservedly the delight of all that knew him."

Oh, thou whose smile cou’d once e’en grief disarm,
Whose presence cou’d each sprightly thought inspire,
Who gave Society its greatest charm,
Whom but to know was ever to inspire,- —

To thee I consecrate my simple strain,
A strain attun’d to plaintive notes of woe;
For thee must each sad friend now mourn in vain,
With sighs that heave and trickling tears that flow.

Not all the gay attractions which were thine,
Not all thy charms, alas ! thy life oould save,
Not all thy sprightly wit so form’d to shine,
Not all cou’d snatch thee from the gloomy grave

Of each gay circle once the chief delight,
With thee festivity and mirth appear’d;
Hilarity and fancy ever bright,
Shone in thine eyes and ev’ry bosom cheer’d.

At home, the tender husband, father, friend,
Serenely cheerful st-ill t-hine egual mind,
Delightful there the social hour to spend,
And meet a welcome uniformly kind,

Oh ! what avails thy virtues rare to boast,
Thus on thy worth and excellence to dwelt,
To paint those charms by weeping friendship lost,
To sing thy praise or of thy wit to tell !

Torn from the bosom of a faithful wife
In one short hour ! She lives thy loss to mourn,
Of thee bereft to drag her load of life,
And shed new tears with. each new-day’s return.

How oft shall friendship heave a mournful sigh.
How oft regret the gay companion fled,
How oft shall nieni’ry fill with tears each eye,
For thou, alas ! art imumbei’ed with the dead !

For me, on whom thou still did.st kindly smile,
What now remains hut- ceaseless to deplore,
Thy lov’d esteem did many a care bguile,
But oh ! I know thy lov’d esteem no more

Forever gone ! by cruel Fate’ s decree,
When least expectccl was the dreadful stroke,
One day beheld thee cheerful, gay and free,
The next the ties of love and friendship broke!

Ala-s I how short our date of pleasure here,
How few the niornents spent in mirth and joy,
How small the bliss this transient life to cheer,
How many cares our little bliss destroy!

Farewell, dear spirit, ever now at- rest,
Thine ashes moulder in the peaceful grave;
Be ever green the turf upon thy brea st.
And o’er thy head the mournful cypress wave.

In April she left the Isle of Man for the last time, going to stay with the Grahams. When there she paid a further tribute to her lost friend.

SONNET

ON MY DEAR MARIA GRAHAM.

Ye happy days of gay delight,
Which once, alas, were mine,
Ye scenes of peace serenely bright,
Where joys were wont to shine !

Whither ah ! whither are ye fled—
Fled never to return ?
These weeping eyes new tears must shed
All J must ever mourn.

How switly flew each hour away,
By love amid friendship blest
In joy amid gladness pass’d each day,
Each night brought peace and rest.

Sad 1icmn’i ‘y , with liei piercing eye,
Looks back to scenes like these,
Delights to trace with many a sigh,
What once so much cou’d please.

Yet why thus add ne n pangs of grief?
Why rend my toitur’ d mind?
Can no reflection bring relief,
Nor sorrow conifort find ?

Aim I mi-c—too dccl) mi 10S0m’S wound,
Too keen time WOC I feel;
Nor time with never—ending -ound,
My anguish o’er can heal.

Dear lovd Maria—gentle friend,
To (lea til a U en ily )rey,
With misery that knows no end,
I mourn thee snatch’ d away I
Why, why, ye powers, have I a heart
With feeling so replete—
Why still with agonising smart
Must this poor bosom heat?

Had I ne’er known the worth I weep,
How happy might I be—
Then should I miot, with sighs so deep,
Bewail my loss in thee

What charms were late in this abode,
Gay pleasure ceaseless smih’d—
‘Tsvas she, alas I those charms bestow’d,
And ev’ry care beguiled I

Now, as I wander thro’ each room,
How sad the scene to me,
0’ erspread with universal gloom,
For oh ! I meet not thee!

Oh, recollection, nurse of pain,
In pity quit my breast—
No more revisit me again,
To rob me thus of rest!

But come, Oblivion, balm of woe,
Thou soother of each grief,
Who can alone on me be-stow
A calm, to give relief!

And oh, Indifference bring with thee,
To her I yield my heart;
Exempt from anguish let me be
And sorrow’s deadly dart.

Then shall I not with endless pain,
Some loss each day deplore:
Then shall my bosom peace regain,
And know distress no more!

 

A month later, on the 20th of May, she was still in Great Russell Street, from whence she wrote a "Letter to Mrs. Holwell, on being invited to a very pleasant party at Tunbridge Wells, but prevent’d attending it’’ : —

Your party next Tuesday, my very dear Aunt,
Will be most delightful, I readily grant:
How much I regret that I cannot be there,
Your mirth to enjoy your amusement to share:
I often shall think of you all on that day
And myself deem unlucky in being away;
To toy mind represent how each moment will fly,
And lament my own absence with many a sigh;
Yet what can I do ? All my wishes are vain,
And by wishing, alas ! ‘tis but little we gain
Shou’d I wish till my heart aches ‘twou’d still be the same,
No nearer I’d be to the point where I aim.
Till Peter’s arrival, you know I’m fixed here,
I ne’er can lose sight of an object so clear;
My heart to affection amid him ever true,
I can’t till he quits me see Tunbridge or you.
With eager impatience I long to embrace him,
And tin-n with my kind uncle Pasie\- to place him
He there will be happy, and my heart at ease,
Of his welfare I’m sure from his efforts to please.
1 themi shall leave London (with sorrow I own
Unless Mr. Graham consents to go down).
With a friend so belov’d, alas I how shall I part!
The thought is distressing, and rends my poor heart.
With various sensations my bosom is torn—
The conflict is almost too great to be borne
Affection for you lprompts my wishes that way,
While gratitude here asks a longer delay :
You know I to him all my happiness owe,
That his goodness alone sav’d my heart from a blow—
A blow so tremendous, severe and unjust,
‘Twou’d have levell’d my prospects of peace in the dust!
To him I owe Peter, and Peter’s my bliss,
Ought I then not to love him ? My heart answers "Yes"
You will not be angry, that this I confess,
The’ him I love much, I don’t love you the less
My heart. form’d for tenderness ever will prove,
That it wants neither friendship, affection nor love,
Shoud I (most absurdly) attempt to pretend,
I shall feel no regret, when I quit my kind friend,
I shoii’d he most ungrateful, anti you might reject me,
Because without feeling you’d justly suspect me;
I neither should merit his friendship nor yours,
For mutual affection such friendship ensures
You know with what pleasure to you I shall fly.
Notwithstanding I leave Mr. G. with a sigh!
His merit and worth deserve all I cou’d give,
Had I worlds to bestow, a-nd forever shou’d live;
But your kindness must soothe- me, and sorrow beguile,
With one eye I’ll weep—with the other i’ll smile.
This morning is Sunday—I’d nothing to do,
So thought I wou’d scribble a little to you;
And feeling my wit most un-usual1y, bright,
I determin’d to take a poetical flight;
Perhaps you will laugh at me—do if you chuse,
I care not so much, so I only amuse:
In the meantime, I wish you much sport in your ~shing,
While myself I’ll no longer distress by v~in wishing.
Best love to niy uncle, to Zeph, Jem and Will,
And believe me, dear Atmt, I sincerely am still,
With affection and truth (praying Heav’n to bless ye)
Your highly ohiig’d and most- grateful niece,
NESSY,

That’s not a good rhyme, but I can’t find a better,
- And ‘tis time to conclude my nonsensical letter.

Monday— Thus far had I written, dear Aunt, yesterday,
But this morning I’ve got something further to say:
Harriet Graham arriv’d from the country last night,
And her presence affords me much real delight.
She’s a sweet, lovely girl, and perhaps she may stay
In towim a good while_but, dear Aunt, a good day,
My paper is finish’d, and I must conclude,
Again your affectionate NESSY HEYWOOD.

She must have gone to stay with her aunt at some period between the end of May and the beginning of August, as on the 3rd of the latter month she composed a

"SONNET TO CONTENTMENT. A PARODY,"

Which was written at their house, "Southbro," near Tunbridge Wells : —

Sweet Contentment, tell me why
Still thou dost my bosom fly;
When 1 of Sorrow’s wounds complain,
Stay, oh ! stay, and soothe my pain I

Gentle Comfort, night and day,
Go not from me far away.
Me and my cares, oh I do not leave
Deign to hear me while I grieve.

Horrid War ! with loud alarms
Draws my Lycid from my arms—
While with fears my heart shall beat,
Come, Content, with accents sweet!

Oft repeat thy che-arful st-rain,
Whisper ‘He shall laurels gain,
Care shall not his breast assail,
Joy shall float on ev’ry gale."

But a tender mother weeps—
Then, alas ! Contentment sleeps,
Loud I call with suppliant strain—
Still she sleeps—I call in vain!

Torn with complicated woes,
Bursting sighs and tears that flow
Where’s Content whlec thus I rnourn ?
Fled—oh I never to return !

Also a "CATCH (for Three Voices.)"
While our rural sports enjoying,
Far from pomp and Court parade,
Hence dull sorrow, care, and sighing,
Nor this calm retreat invade.

Sacred be this day to pleasure,
Mirth and Music shall combine,
Life is short—we’ll grasp the treasure,
Peace shall make our moments shine.

Spritely strains each hour beguiling,
Ev’ry voice shall bear a part;
Friendship on her vot’ries smiling,
Speaks delight to every heart!

On the 4th she went for a visit to Major York, at Bishop’s Grove, near Tunbridge Wells, where, on the following day, she wrote a "CARD to Miss Birch and Miss Hoiwell, on being prevented by some very unpleasant circumstances from joining a most charming party of friends on a Naval Excursion : —

I cannot be with you, dear lasses, to-day,
My cares shall not sadden a party so gay;
But tho’ I’m absent my efforts I’ll join
To heighten your mirth while at Hamsill1 you dine
‘Tie a feeble attempt, which I make at great haste
This morning, while dressing, but why should I waste
A moment in framing apologies trite,
My intention, at least, was to give you delight
And tho’ so unfortunate not to succeed,
Yet kindly accept the good-will for the deed.
The "catch" I have sent you is for voices just- three;
With Warren2 to aid you, you cannot want me,
May social good humour enliven your party,
Be cheerfulness your’s, while with wishes most hearty,
That ev’ry new day you may pleasantly spend,
I remain, my dear girls, your affectionate friend.

NESSY HEYWOOD.

1A beautiful place where the party dined.
2A gentleman who sang well, and was to be there,

It was called a "Naval Excursion," seemingly, because there were naval officers present. It certainly did not take place at the sea-side, as Hamsill is close to Tunbridge Wells. This "card" extracted an "Answer, impromptu," by the Rev. Dr. Jackson:

Your absence must preclude the pray’r,
Which you disinterested give
Tasteless the viands you don’t share,
And dull the life where Nessy cannot live!

Hamshill, 7th August, 1793.

We do not know who he was, but it is evident he became attached to Nessy, whose end, alas ! was not far off. It is possible that one of the "unpleasant circumstances" she alluded to may have been illness. It is evident from her likeness that she was very delicate ; and we gather that this was so, too, from certain remarks in the letters of her brother Peter. It is probable that her terrible voyage from England, in the previous October when she was so long exposed to the elements, and got wet through, had injured her. However this may have been, all that we know is that when she was at Major York’s she was seized "with a most violent cold, and, not taking proper care of herself, it soon turned to an inflammation of the lungs on the fatal 5th of September.*

Some days later her uncle, Colonel HoIwell, took her to Hastings, which, under the circumstances, seems an extraordinary thing to have done, "to try if change of air and being near the sea would recover her ; but, alas ! it was too late for her to receive the wished-for benefit, and she died there on the 25th of the same month, "and," her mother’s letter concluded, "has left me, her only surviving parent, a disconsolate mother, ever to lament while I live, with the most sincere affection, the irreparable loss of my most valuable, affectionate and darling daughter.’’

* Letter from her mother, Mrs. Elizabeth Heywood.

Nessy was buried at Hastings. We may be sure that she was deeply regretted by her family and relations, but nothing remains to show this except the following tributes from three friends : —

ON THE ACCOMPLISHED MISS NESSY HEYWOOD,

BY THE REV. DOCTOR JACKSON.

Peace to the mind we ever must revere,
And o’er her ashes shed one gen’ral tear;
Yet not for her we grieve ! in blissful state
Her soul, secure, defies the hand of fate;
Whilst on the waves of fickle fortune test
We mourn the daughter, friend, and sister lost!

Tunbridge Wells, 1793. T. J

The writer of the next is unknown : —

To MRS. HEYWOOD, PARADE, ISLE OF MAN.

The author hopes he presumes not impertinently in offering the enclos’d small tribute, which is but the promise of one more equal to the subject and his respect.

Wednesday Evening, Douglas.

AN ELEGIAC INVOCATION OF THE MUSES OCCASION’D BY THE DEATH OF THE AMIABLE MISS NESSY HEYWOOD.

Now weave the Cypress wreath, Celestial Nine !
Now all in eloquence of grief combine,
To tell the world its loss. For you -alone,
In strains accordant, can that loss bemoan.

The sprightly wit and captivating sense,
That Envy, e’en denied malign Pretence,
The Hand whose touch cou’d animate tne clod,
Or lift, in solemn stroke, the soul to God
The voice seraphic I ever heard to raise,
Exstatic transport, in melodious lays!
The sympathetic breast, whose plaintive strain
Could melt afflictions—to Compassion’ s pain,
All, all were her’ s !—and many a beauty more,
Which you alone, with justice, may deplore.
F-or me, the humble wish is all remains,
Ye magic soothers of distraction’s pains!
That by your aid, she in her death may live,
While e’en one blessing Fame may have to give !
And through persuasion of her present bliss
Her weeping friends the cross of Fate my kiss!

JUVENIS.

October 8th, 1793.

But the "lines, occasioned by reading an account of the death of Miss Nessy Heywood in the last paper," are by Nessy’s old friend, John Stowell

How soon ! sweet maid, how like a fleeting dream,
Thy winning graces, all thy virtues seem I
How soon, arrested in thy early bloom,
Has Fate decreed thee to the joyless tomb I
Nor Beauty, Genius, nor the Muses’ care,
Nor ought could move the Tyrant Death to spare.
Ah I could their pow’r revoke the stern decree,
The fatal shaft had past unfelt by thee;
But vain thy wit, thy sentiment refin’d,
Thy charms external, and accomplish’d mind;
Thy artless smiles that seiz’d the willing heart,
Thy converse, that cou’d pure delight impart;
The melting music of thy skilful tongue,
While judgment listen’d, ravish’d with thy song;
Not all the gifts that art and nature gave,
Could save thee, lovely Nessy, from the grave !

Too early lost! from friendship’s bosom torn,
O might I tune thy lyre, and sweetly mourn
In strains like thine, when beauteous Margaret’s fate
Oppress’d thy friendly heart with sorrow’s weight;
Then shou’d my numbers flow, and laurels bloom
In endless spring around fair Nessy’s tomb !

CANDIDUS.

Isle of Man, 1793.

So ended, at the early age of twenty-five, the brief life of one who was evidently not only good and amiable, but talented and charming.


 

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